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Fierce Love

I lost my mom 91 days ago. She sewed a ‘Genie’ costume for me so I could participate in the Halloween parade in elementary school. Later, she would make my prom dress senior year, fashioned by her own hands. She would iron my cap and gown for college graduation, and help me into my wedding dress just a year later. She thought I was beautiful.

We had our moments through all those years, to be sure. All mothers and daughters do. As an adult, though, she became my friend. My fierce and loving friend. You see, when you lose someone you love, you also lose someone who loved you. We don’t often think of it that way. Losing someone who loves and supports you unconditionally is difficult, because you don’t get more than a handful of people like that in your life. Your mom is at the top of that list.

Mine was the kind of mom you didn’t mess with. I couldn’t always tell her if I was struggling with a certain friend or my husband. I knew she would take on my fight long after it was over. She would still have a little fire in her on my behalf for that person. Sometimes, I would just call her out of the blue during one of these struggles, but I wouldn’t tell her I was hurting. She could tell by the sound of my voice, and she knew I just needed to hear hers.

She taught me words like ‘fan dangled’ and initiated my love for writing. She taught me how, with a little patience, you can fix most things. She taught me to be gracious. She displayed this virtue in the face of my attitude many times. But what she taught me the most is love. A fierce love for your family and friends. A love that takes on your cause and supports and encourages. It was the last thing she said to me, “Just know that I love you.”

She used to give me Mother’s Day cards before I had children, just to say she felt blessed to be a mom because of me. She said I was the best thing she ever did.

So when I’m at my lowest of lows, her love continues to be the place I look to pick myself up and dust myself off. And this is what I want to leave for my own kids: to know they are fiercely loved by me.

As I look ahead to Mother’s Day next weekend, I know it will be a little bit of a challenge, but her gift of a Mother’s love is with me, in my heart to pass along. I’m not sure there is a better gift than that. Thank you mom, and to all the moms out there leaving behind a loving legacy.

Spread the Love

Valentine’s Day has never been a whopping day of love and romance for me. For some reason, maybe a past experience…or two, I always raised the bar on expectation, expecting fireworks (real ones) and lobster, and shoes.

Nowadays, I make a special dinner for my family, decorate the table, light candles, and give them all extra hugs. This is love to me, although I still drool over a new pair of shoes.

This year I’m going to add a new ‘love’ task to my list. Years ago as I was waiting for a Grande Vanilla Latte in the drive thru line at Starbucks, somebody behind me paid for my drink. When I got up to the window, the friendly latte correspondent said that my drink was paid for by the person behind me. It turned out to be a friend of mine, and I thanked her profusely, but I never forgot about it. Later, I would repeat this for random strangers, but I haven’t done it for a long time.

So, if you go to Starbucks in Snohomish on Tuesday, February 14th, and happen to be in line behind me, you are going to get your loving latte or mocha or whatever you order, on me.

Spread the love!

New Year’s Resolution 2012

New Year’s Eve was always my favorite celebration during my teen years. The fresh air of possibility hovered all around. I was young with milestones stretched out before me.

Now that I’m older, I still get an elevated sense of hope as the New Year is ushered in. And then I realize that everyday is new. I should be blowing horns and lighting fireworks at the vivid picture of hope and possibility every morning. But I don’t. Not always.

So maybe my resolution should be to see each new day as it’s own celebration…with this view, hope and possibility won’t be too far behind.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What’s your resolution for 2012?

Hope and the Giant Beanstalk

A few weeks ago my daughter brought home a handful of purple beans from school. I confess in the frenzy of after school excitement, I made a mental note to toss them in the compost bin later. Pushing that thought away, we took the following 10 minutes and scoured the house for unused mason jars, went to the garden beds and scooped up dirt, plopped the seeds on top, doused with water, and forgot all about them. You can imagine the excitement when we finally noticed these regal stalks poised like ice skaters waiting for their debut. Now, instead of dwelling in the land of the forgotten, these elegant flora adorn our dining room windows, and serve as a reminder that amazing things can happen with a little hope.

How to Celebrate When Things Get Busy

The other day I caught myself in a self-induced state of negativity, droning on about my busy schedule. I finally had a good talk with myself (no, not out loud), You’re not so special. Everybody is busy.

Learning to cope when life gets busy is an art form I have yet to master. I’m not a morning person, and I LOVE to sit over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and talk…and talk…and talk. I like to enjoy friends and family…while sitting…and doing nothing in particular. In other words I might be lazy.

So when the schedule gets full with things that don’t involve the above, I get spun up like a kitten in a ball of yarn.

This holiday season I’m going to do things a little bit differently (and free myself from that pesky yarn). Here are my Top 10 Ways to Celebrate When Things Get Busy:

10) Get up 15 minutes earlier. Doing this 5 days a week will generate an extra 1.25 hours per week. Just think, if we woke up an extra 30 minutes earlier… never mind, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

9) Exercise 3 times per week. This is something I actually am trying to do, but I have to stay consistent to see the results: more energy, slimmer muffin top, etc.

8) Rest for 15 minutes in between tasks. I remember during my working years, before children, the two 15-minute breaks and 1-hour lunch were a golden time for me and my coworkers. These ideas have somehow eluded me during my stay-at-home years. So I’m going to make sure to sit down and take a break. I will actually get more done because I’ll have more energy.

7) Smile. Smiling uses less muscles than frowning, which will cause less wrinkles, or at least more attractive ones (if this is possible).

6) Say YES. I have a houseful of kids, and the word NO comes out of my mouth like a knee-jerk reaction when the doctor uses that strange tool during a check-up. I’m going to try and say YES more, or at least take a few seconds before I answer NO.

5) Do one small thing. Most of the time the tasks on my to-do list seem overwhelming, but I’ve adopted the Do One Small Thing principle to keep me proactive and confident. Otherwise, my to-do list creates an insecurity in me, and I can do that all by myself, thank you very much.  Down with you to-do list. I’m in charge.

4) Observe. Some of our best ideas come when we are simply watching life unfold in front of us, like a still photo of a person with the blur of life all around them. Yet, when we allow ourselves to sit and observe, we often can’t handle the stillness, so we join in the cacophony of activity. Learn to just BE.

3) Read a good book. A fantastic departure from the realities of life can be found in a good book. If you’re in the middle of the holiday season and feel the stress of it, read a book about an adventure you would like to take. For instance, reading a book about the happenings of a small book shop in Hawaii would do the trick for me.

2) Try something new. This can be as outlandish or conservative as you like. Take a class, even for one evening, about something you love, or would like to learn more about. Purchase a new item for your wardrobe. Eat a roasted brussels sprout (I dare you). I don’t recommend getting a different haircut during the holidays, however. We’ve been down that road before, right?

1) Create a mission. I have not done this, but read about it recently and thought it made good sense. We tend to make all kinds of plans, but those can derail leaving us winded and discouraged. A mission, on the other hand, allows us to work backward with the end in mind.  I leave you with a very appropriate example:

I want to be the kind of person my dog already thinks I am. ~ Anonymous

Here’s to celebrating the busyness of life!

A New Favorite

I have a long history with Lavender. I love everything about it. Of course there’s the scent, but I also love the toughness of the stem leading to the fragility of purple blossoms. I love that you can eat it, drink it, make oil out of it…and soda.

I took a photography class that you can read about here a few months ago. It was catered by Tom Douglas Company among others, and Dry Soda was a featured item.

It wasn’t until last week while shopping at Central Market in Mill Creek, WA that I finally got the chance to try some of my own.

It is now a summer staple at my house, and I encourage you to try it for yourself. Here is a link to find a store near you.

http://www.drysoda.com/

Overexposed

Don’t ask me why,  but I happen to like overexposed pictures of flowers. This is a mix of Sweet Peas and Cosmos from my garden, and I just love it. Imagine this is a bouquet from my garden to your kitchen window. Have a halcyon day!

Moody Oysters

I took this picture at a recent workshop I attended in Seattle. When I returned home and put them on my computer, I was surprised to find that this shot illicited a sense of…moodiness. Not the kind you will find at my house on any given summer day with three bored children, but the kind that mimics mystery, like a 1920′s flapper girl smoking a long, thin cigarette and wearing a dress made out of fringe: Who are you? What is your story?

Over the last couple of days I had the priviledge of having a few deep conversations. At the end of each I came to realize that we are mysterious. We want (need) people to reach beyond our last statement, or action, or facial expression, to arrive at the depths we live in. Keep going. You’re almost there. I want to tell you my story.

The Oysters remind me that people need validation, whether 3 or 33 or 93. We may not all don a mysterious pose like my flapper girl above, but we are all waiting to be seen and heard.

So pay attention to someone today. Who are you? What is your story?

Survive and Thrive

We played hookie from school the other day and found ourselves immersed in the scenery at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, WA.

This verdant place holds fond memories of tip-toeing down garden paths, formal wine tastings, and that first hypnotic sip of Col Solare.

But there wouldn’t be any wine tastings on this day of kid-filled fun: silly photos, a fun movie, copious amounts of junk food, and memory making.

Chateau Ste. Michelle offered the fresh air, cool breeze and earthy scent of garden shrubs, dirt and floral perfume– the scent of life, and it was just what we needed.

Then, as my son excitedly walked down a dark path (leave it to boys), he found a secret space, right there under the Japanese Maples. And that’s when those vague thoughts I’d been having on thriving came to fruition.

I’m sure I have mentioned this before in recent posts, but I’ll say it again: It has been a long winter here in Seattle. The days have been overcast, temperatures are just beginning to warm as we start June, and I haven’t been able to get a natural dose of Vitamin D since 2010 (well, not completely true, but you get the point).

So the garden is a place we Seattleites go to experience life, growth and a dose of awareness. Seeing something pop up out of the dirt reminds me that I’m alive, that there is purpose.

But as often happens, flowers burn from too-hot compost or strong fertilizer, and succumb to the wake of a slug’s slippery slurry. Just yesterday while taking the Chihuahua tinkle, I bent over and hovered my face over a sorry bunch of pansies, and gasped at the sight of the enemy slug. Not expecting to see it, I had to use the only tools I had on me, my hands, to hoist them onto other foraging ventures. *eeuuww*

A gardener’s job, amateur or not, is to assess whether plants, trees, seeds and flowers are surviving, and dare I say, thriving. Much of the time I have to say that my garden is hanging on by a weak tendril of life, as I supply water and nutrition at the last possible moment before it’s too late (and sometimes it really is too late). Call me lazy, absent-minded, neglectful, selfish, or just plain…behind.

And I wonder if I flirt with that last possible moment in other areas of my life: are my kids thriving? my marriage? other relationships? the sorry carnival goldfish we’ve had for two years when we were only expecting to have it for 2 weeks? And what about me? Am I merely surviving in suburbia, or am I thriving.

I confess some days I feel like a rusty weed poking out of a cracked desert floor, barely surviving under the heat and pressure of life. But then, in the surviving, the pushing through, the perseverance, and the dedication to this life, I begin to thrive a little bit, and then a little bit more.

So when I followed my son, and then my squeeling girls, around the dark path to the Japanese Maples, I took a deep breath and admired with child-like giddiness the beauty and age of these trees.

That’s why I will treasure this photo, silly as it is, because it reminds me to enjoy life, and not just that, but to embrace it like a loved one. The key to thriving lies within benchmarks, checking in, goal setting, and sometimes in playing hookie.

Go have some fun!

All That Glitters

Do you have a thing for glitter? It’s definitely one of my favorite things and I like to use it whenever I can. This year as in years past, I used glitter to make our white- mini- pumpkins sparkle.

If you are going to do this project with kids, get some Mod Podge at your local craft store and let them paint the tops of the pumpkins using a paintbrush. If I’m by myself, I use spray adhesive, because I’m lacking on patience and like to get things done quickly. Then, hover the pumpkin over a torn-out piece of magazine paper, and sprinkle the glitter over the glued spaces. I used SULYN Industries, Inc. “Glitter” in white. The pieces of glitter are rather large and look like real frost. You can get thin glitter for a more elegant look, but I like the way the larger pieces look. When you are finished, crease the magazine page in half and let the glitter funnel back into the glitter container.

Find a cozy place: entry table, coffee table, nightstand, anywhere that might get a glow from a lamp or candle, and place them in a group of odd numbers. You might also like to cut a tiny slit in the stem and use them for placeholders at Thanksgiving.

However you decide to decorate with glitter, make it a family tradition.

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